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Places to Visit in Manhattan and New York City

Things to do / Travel Guide

Parts of the boroughs of New York City (NYC) were separate cities in their own right before being integrated over time into the conglomerate which they form today.

Manhattan

New York got its start on Manhattan. Manhattan is the financial hub of the United States and, in many ways, the rest of the world. Its Wall Street and Financial District are busy places where, as the cliché goes, fortunes can be made and lost in a minute. There is excellent shopping here as well, as well as Broadway theater shows and a host of renowned entertainment venues.
Manhattan also features Central Park, the quintessential urban park, replete with cultural attractions and events as well as a myriad of ways to spend time relaxing. There are also a number of neighborhoods in Manhattan, each with their own flavor. Some of these include Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Chelsea, West Village, East Village, Harlem, SoHo, and Chinatown.

The borough's population is so diverse that simply crossing the street may put you in a different neighborhood, with its own unique personality and flavor. In a nutshell, here is how the island is laid out if you walk from its southern tip to the northern edge:

The southern tip of Manhattan is Downtown, the Financial District. Moving north past City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge, the island widens - TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal) is to the west, on your left. To the east, the Civic Center area merges into Chinatown further north and east.

Moving on north, you pass Canal Street. To the east lies the Lower East Side, which is slowly losing ground to the expansion of Chinatown. Slightly to the west, around Broadway, is SoHo (South of Houston). Surrounded by Chinatown is the small pocket of Little Italy.

Further still, between Houston Street (which is the equivalent of “0 Street”) and 14th Street are the “Villages”: West Village, East Village, and Greenwich Village. North of Greenwich Village is Chelsea, and to the far west is the Meat Packing District. To the east, or to your right, are mainly residential neighborhoods, including Gramercy Park.

Continuing on your northerly virtual walking tour, the area becomes more commercial after Chelsea. Between 34th Street and 59th Street, across the entire width of Manhattan, is Mid-town. Central Park divides the island beyond as follows: The Upper East Side continues north until 96th Street, where Spanish (East) Harlem begins. The Upper West Side becomes Morningside Heights at 110th Street and Harlem near 125th Street. Washington Heights and Inwood are at the northern end of Manhattan. After that you cross the river into the Bronx.

“You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.”

The Bronx

The Bronx, the mainland continuation of the Manhattan landmass, receives its name from Bronck's Farm, which, in the mid-17th century, comprised a significant portion of the area. A major component of its current population is comprised of descendants of the African Americans who arrived in the 1920s Great Migration from the South. Other ethnic groups, such as Jews and Puerto Ricans, also moved in to the Bronx in great numbers. The western side of the borough is more wooded and hilly, with a generally more affluent population.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn was not officially part of New York City until 1898, making it the last borough to join. This borough is known for its many immigrant populations, which began arriving in the 19th century. Most of the immigrant groups that eventually settled here came via Manhattan, where they made some money after arriving from the Old World. Many people chose to move in groups to specific neighborhoods. As such, Boro Park and Crown Heights are primarily Jewish, Bensonhurst is mainly Italian, Flatlands has a strong West Indian flavor, and Sunset Park is mostly Latin American and Asian American.

Queens

Queens was established in 1683 as a county of the future state of New York. It is farther north and east than Brooklyn on Long Island. This geographic location gives it a more urban feel, similar to that of Brooklyn and the Bronx in their more western regions, and a less urban feel the more northeast you go. Queens also has large immigrant populations hailing from all over the world, with Greeks and Asian Americans, for example, especially favoring the northwest areas of the borough. Queens is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.

Staten Island

Staten Island, also known as the County of Richmond, is the least populated but fastest-growing of the five NYC boroughs. It also has the most homogenized population, being comprised of 44% Italians and 15% Irish, with the overwhelming remainder being either African American or Anglo-Saxon. Called the “forgotten borough,” and not even connected to any other New York City borough until 1965, Staten Island contains more parkland than any of others.

Places to Visit in Manhattan and New York City

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